Saturday, November 22, 2008

Orthodoxy and Anabaptism

Posted At MennoDiscuss under the topic "Is Anabaptism more than Pacificsm)

A friend of mine who has a doctorate in church history has come up with 26 Anabaptist distinctives (which I am posting at this blog site:

I have tried to simplify these distinctives to these points which the anabaptist does not share with the orthodox viewpoints of Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox churches:

The teaching of Jesus and the apostles takes precedence over the Law and the Prophets. Thus, Mennonites do not hold to a “flat” Bible, but see the teaching of Jesus and the apostles as central, and the rest of Scripture being interpreted through the teaching of Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

The end of all Bible study is to do what it says. We can believe in the Bible, but unless we do it, then our faith is dead. The true believer in Jesus is not just one who agrees with the word of Jesus, but who lives it out. (James 2:14-26; Matthew 7:21-27)

Believers of Jesus must be faithful to the teaching of Jesus, even if this brings them into conflict with the authorities placed over them by God. (Acts 5:29)

Baptism is for believers only. Baptism may not be given to infants or family members of believers in Jesus, but only for those who are firmly committed to Jesus for their whole lives. (Mark 16:16)

Each local congregation is qualified and responsible to decide what should be taught to it. Local congregations should also call, support and discipline their own pastors.

Believers of Jesus are literally to love their enemies and not to resist evildoers. This means that Christians cannot participate in the military. This separates all disciples from the world system which demands warfare and violence. (Matthew 5:38-48)

Believers in Jesus must share what they have with other believers who have needs. (Luke 12:33; 16:9) This means that believers need to live simply, in order to reserve their extra resources to share with others.

hi steve,

i read over your list of qualities which supposedly separate anabaptism from those other faiths you mention, and will say that what you may not realize is that Eastern Orthodoxy has taught many of those things long before anabaptism came on the scene-in fact, i have discovered they are actually emphasized and practised just as much, if not more so, amongst the Orthodox as amongst the mennonites. true, we do practise infant as well as adult, baptism, and there is no official "doctrine" of non-resistance (i believe in it myself), but the Gospel is indeed central to our Faith-indeed utmost reverence is always accorded the Holy Gospels at all times. worship of the Holy Trinity and becoming more Christlike (theosis) is absolutely central to our faith.

anyhow, i just wanted to clarify a bit for you (how would you know these things if you had never experienced the christian life as an Orthodox Christian? we view our Faith not as a religion, but as a "way of life"). Eastern Orthodoxy is neither Roman Catholicism nor Protestantism ,and in fact, the reality is that in many ways RCism and Protestantism are more akin to one another than the RCC is to the Orthodox Church.

did you check out the website i sent you ? you can see for yourself how active these folks are in loving and caring for the poor in our midst! we Orthodox are very interested in praxis too! we believe very strongly in the importance of suffering, humility, taking up our cross, sharing what we have with others, living simply. indeed, most of my Orthodox friends live far more simply than the majority of the conservative mennonite folks i used to know-most of whom, upon their marriages had to have everything new and fancy. you would be shocked to see the poverty in which many of my orthodox friends (including myself) live in. i would say that list and characterizations therein to be not quite true, from personal experience.

please forgive me, and do not be offended,



I am certainly not offended. I have a number of friends who "converted" to Orthodoxy and I have done a bit of research on Orthodoxy myself, although honestly, I've really only read a few authors and the Philokalia.

I am truly very impressed with Orthodoxy, and feel that it comes close to what is considered a New Testament standard. So can Catholicism and Evangelicalism. I feel that the longer any church becomes the persecuted minority, the closer it comes to being the NT church. This is probably why Orthodoxy is further down the track than the other two paths-- they haven't been oppressed near as long as the Orthodox have! Heck, the evangelicals in the U.S. still think they're in charge!

However, I would still hold that these are Anabaptist ideals, not really shared by the orthodox. The Orthodox do see the faith as a "way of life", as you say, but they are less based on the word of Jesus for that life. That doesn't mean that they exclude Jesus-- by no means!-- but they interpret Jesus through the patriarchs, while the Anabaptists go straight to Jesus without any other interpreters (in theory).

As you say, pacifism isn't an Orthodox official ideal, and to not baptize infants would be conisdered a grave wrong. So, although I appreciate your insight, I wonder if your proximity to Anabaptism is adding more to Orthodoxy than you think. Perhaps you yourself see Orthodoxy in this way, but would the average Greek or Russian Orthodox person see their life in this way? I doubt it.

It is the same with Catholicism and other forms of Christianity. There are many that take on a particular aspect of Anabaptism-- like the Baptists not baptising infants or the Emerging church adopting pacificm-- but that doesn't make them Anabaptist.

Still, I appreciate you, your insights and the Orthodox church as a whole. I thank God that you are all there.

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